April 12, 2015
Robert F. Dodge, M.D.
Following the arrival of spring each year, our nation renews its commitment to our priorities on Tax Day, April 15, from education to health care, infrastructure and national defense. Included among these expenditures are nuclear weapons programs—weapons that can not and must not ever be used.
The funding for these programs, while more transparent than in the past, is still quite secretive. From the beginnings of our nuclear programs in 1940 we have spent as a nation in excess of $6 trillion on them. This Tax Day we will spend ~$56.3 billion more on these same programs. From Los Angeles County’s expenditure of $1.785 billion to our nation’s capitol at $107 million, these are monies that we can ill afford to spend.
The squandering of these dollars—while continuing to inadequately fund national programs on infrastructure, education, health care and the environment—speaks to who we are as a nation. No one would argue against spending the entirety of these monies to secure, dismantle and clean up the existing environmental legacy of these weapons. Thereafter these monies could be more appropriately reallocated to programs that benefit all.
This year’s expenditures come at a critical time—just when international efforts to control the spread of nuclear weapons through the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the remarkable and long sought controls over Iran’s capability to acquire a nuclear weapon, we propose these massive expenditures on more weaponry of mass destruction. Is this the best we can do to lead by example?
This month’s preliminary accord between the P5+1 and Iran to remove Iran’s capability to build a nuclear weapon significantly enhances the security of the region and the world and needs the support of anyone who wishes to reduce the likelihood of nuclear war. Yet this too is being held in abeyance by political hardliners in Iran and the U.S. Congress.
Seventy years after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we continue to maintain and modernize our nuclear arsenals as though locked in a Cold War time warp that has long passed. Our president, held hostage by congressional leadership, proposes to spend an additional $1 trillion over the next 30 years just on the “modernization” of our arsenals.
This in spite of being bound by international treaty along with the other nuclear states to work in good faith toward complete disarmament by Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The NPT Review Conference will begin this month in New York at the U.N.
This year’s conference comes at a critical time as the non-nuclear states have grown impatient with the lack of progress of the nuclear states in meeting their legal obligations. Failure to make real progress threatens the entire treaty and will likely shift the focus to a nuclear weapons ban convention similar to conventions on other weapons of mass destruction like chemical and biological weapons.
The world must come together this 70th year of the Nuclear Age and speak with one voice for humanity and the future of our children. Now is time to end the insanity that hangs over us, the threat of nuclear annihilation. We must move forward with a shared sense of tomorrow. Our children deserve this.
Robert F. Dodge, M.D., is a practicing family physician, writes for PeaceVoice, and serves on the boards of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Beyond War, Physicians for Social Responsibility Los Angeles, and Citizens for Peaceful Resolutions.